CSA

7 Tips For Finding the Right CSA

by Anne Maxfield on April 16, 2018

Accidental Locavore CSA LettuceThis is the time of year when we all start yearning for anything fresh.

A CSA or Community Sponsored Agriculture share is a great way to support local farmers and put plenty of great produce on your table.

While a few years ago, this was a pretty new concept, now there are CSAs for almost everything from fruits and vegetables to coffees and breads.

How do you pick the best CSA for you?

Accidental Locavore CSAThese were my criteria for picking one and while yours will probably be different, here are 7 tips:

  1. A convenient pick-up place, day and time. You need to think about where and when you want to have an abundance of produce. Do you cook and entertain during the weekends? Or will you use it mostly during the week? When will you have time to wash/prep stuff? Do you have fridge space?
  2. A reasonable share for the number of people in your household. If you hate wasting food and sometimes feel like the kitchen version of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice–cooking as fast as you can, only to have a whole new box show up, you might want to split a share with a neighbor or friend. Some CSAs offer half shares or will match you up with other members who are looking to share the bounty.
  3. For some, organic is important; I’m more into sustainable practices, but if organic matters, only look for those farmers.
  4. A farmer/farm referral. Like most business relationships, it’s all about doing business with people you know and like. We originally joined Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s CSA because a woman farmer I knew was working there and I liked her and her agricultural point of view.
  5. Choice. One of the things I love most about PFP is the ability to choose from about a dozen or more weekly offerings. I can get carrots when I want them and skip the beets. They also have pick-your-own options which add herbs, berries and flowers to your share if you’re willing to go out in the fields. Over the years they’ve added the options to add a fruit share, coffee, meat and even a winter share to get you through the dark months.
  6. What foodstuffs you’re looking for (and can use up). When we joined, we were looking mostly for produce. However, there are many CSAs that offer meat, poultry, bread, eggs and other foods. A few minutes on the Internet should find you just what you need.
  7. Giving back to the community. This is more of an extra credit thing, but Poughkeepsie Farm Project is in the middle of an urban area and gives back through education and by providing produce to local families.

Accidental Locavore CSA shareWhatever you decide, a CSA is a great way of exploring new foods, while supporting farmers.

But act soon, many of the most popular may be sold out for the season!

 

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Apple Cake Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on September 4, 2017

accidental-locavore-slice-of-apple-cakeNow that we’re moving into apple season, it seemed like a good time to revisit this great apple cake.

Originally the idea of a fruit CSA had its appeal.

Apples and other fresh fruit, weekly when we picked up our regular CSA share at Poughkeepsie Farm Project.

Shared with friends since the Accidental Locavore knew 8 pounds of fruit was going to be too much.

Even 4 pounds is a lot of fruit, but this delicious apple cake will take six of them off your hands.

I’d seen this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and then my cousin called raving about this great apple cake she’d made. She was right!

accidental locavore apple cakeApple Cake Recipe

For the apples:

  • 6 apples, McIntosh or whatever looks good
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons white or light brown sugar

For the cake:

  • 2 3/4 cups (360 grams) flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon fine salt
    1 cup vegetable oil (or mix of butter, olive oil etc.)
    2 cups sugar
    1/4 cup orange juice
    2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    4 large eggs

accidental-locavore apples-for apple cakeHeat oven to 350°. Butter a tube pan (angel food, bundt).

Peel, core and chop apples into 1-inch chunks. Toss with cinnamon and 5 tablespoons sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar, vanilla and eggs.

Mix wet ingredients into dry ones; scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

accidental-locavore apple cake-assemblyPour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples (and their juices) over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top.

Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Great apple cake! After we devoured a couple of slices of it, I cut it in quarters and stuck most of it in the freezer. Two days later, most of it has already been pulled from the freezer (not to worry, got more apples from the CSA). Slightly warmed up, it makes a great breakfast too! Now I’ve made it twice and it still hasn’t lasted a week.

I used a combo of McIntosh and Macon’s which worked well, you probably want to avoid the mushier apples like Delicious. Since we’re not an orange juice drinking household, I just bought an orange and juiced half of it.

The recipe calls for a cup of vegetable oil and suggests that you can use olive or coconut oil and/or butter. Because butter makes everything better, I used one stick of butter, melted and topped it off with vegetable oil. Might try an olive oil-butter mix the next time.

Update: Because of the plethora of apples, I ended up making this about five times. Olive oil was the least successful batch so I went back to butter and vegetable oil. Everyone who has made this or tasted it loves it. Give it a shot.

 

 

 

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Escarole Recipe: Try This Easy Escarole Salad

by Anne Maxfield on July 3, 2017

Accidental Locavore Escarole Salad RecipeI hate gritty produce.

At the CSA pick-up recently, one of the things Frank brought home was a beautiful head of escarole. It’s something I always like, both cooked and raw, but tend to avoid because it needs careful washing and sometimes I’m just not in the mood (you know what I mean?).

After a leisurely bath and a thorough shower (the escarole, not the Accidental Locavore), it was ready for a simple escarole salad recipe I’d seen in bon appètit. This served 6:

Escarole Salad

  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 6 cups torn escarole (from about 2 heads)
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed capers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup shaved peeled horseradish (or prepared horseradish)

Soak onion in a small bowl of ice water at least 30 minutes (you can do this while the escarole is soaking). Drain and pat dry.

Whisk crème fraîche, oil, lemon juice, and vinegar in a large bowl. Add escarole, capers, and drained onion; season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Top salad with horseradish and season with more pepper, serve and enjoy!

Finished Escarole RecipeMy verdict: This escarole salad was made for dinner with friends. Because there wasn’t a scrap left, it proved to be a big hit. Super simple and really delicious! While the summer may be peak time for escarole, it’s not for fresh horseradish, which becomes a small problem. Imagine how much better this could be with the punch you’d get from fresh (or fresher than what I had) horseradish!

Instead of soaking the onions (which I do a lot these days with raw onions) I had made some pickled red onions and used those instead.

The dressing I made separately so I could do it ahead of time. Check it for taste, remembering that it’s going on bitter greens so you might want to add a bit more crème fraîche and adjust the horseradish accordingly.

It’s a great dressing and would work well on a lot of different greens. Grilled radicchio anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

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Bounty from the Box, the CSA Farm Cookbook

by Anne Maxfield on June 12, 2017

Accidental Locavore Bounty From the Box CookbookAnother cookbook. Even with careful (and constant) pruning, they threaten to overtake my office.

Because of that and the availability of almost everything online, I’m getting very picky about whether a cookbook get a seat at the table, shelves, floor, or donation pile.

When Mi Ae Lipe, the author of Bounty from the Box, the CSA Farm Cookbook, contacted me about the book, honestly, I was pretty lukewarm about it. The fact that it was months before I was going to see anything from my CSA may have played a part in it too.

Then the book arrived. It’s huge.

Think Manhattan phone book huge.

OMG what am I going to do with this thing?

But it’s amazing!

Accidental Locavore Zucchini With Flowers from CookbookForget about figuring out what to do with the fifth week of zucchini from your CSA, this book is indispensable for anyone who buys produce.

Besides what you’d expect–cooking ideas and recipes, all the fruit, vegetables and herbs she writes about have guides to selection, storage, seasonality, nutrition and even whether they can be frozen.

There are side-bars with book and cookbook recommendations, quotes and even the pros and cons of joining a CSA.

One of my criteria for judging a cookbook, and the reason I prefer a real book to my e-reader, is the index. I don’t think I’ve ever raved about an index, but Mi Ae has one that’s just recipes by ingredients. So, if you have a mess of arugula and want to do something with it, there are a bunch of recipes that use arugula giving you lots to choose from.

Accidental Locavore First CSA Pickup for CookbookThe only downside to this index? You’ll see at least another four things you’d like to try.

The upside is that if you have a choice at your CSA (like we do) or farmers’ market, you’ll get brave and pick up a bunch of something you’re not familiar with because you’ve got help at home.

Who knows, your new favorite vegetable may be lurking there!

 

 

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